U.S. AGENCY: PANDEMIC MASKS THWARTING FACE RECOGNITION TECH

AppleMagazineJuly 31, 2020

U.S. AGENCY: PANDEMIC MASKS THWARTING FACE RECOGNITION TECH
Having a tough time recognizing your neighbors behind their pandemic masks? Computers are finding it more difficult, too.

A preliminary study published by a U.S. agency found that even the best commercial facial recognition systems have error rates as high as 50% when trying to identify masked faces.

The mask problem is why Apple earlier this year made it easier for iPhone owners to unlock their phones without Face ID. It could also be thwarting attempts by authorities to identify individual people at Black Lives Matter protests and other gatherings.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology says it is launching an investigation to better understand how facial recognition performs on covered faces. Its preliminary study examined only those algorithms created before the pandemic, but its next step is to look at how accuracy could improve as commercial providers adapt their technology to an era when so many people are wearing masks.

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July 31, 2020